The Fuzzy Facts of Myopia

For a student, the onset of childhood myopia can be a frustrating and confusing experience. Squinting to see the blackboard, difficulty concentrating and a decrease in participation in class are all classic signs that a child is experiencing nearsightedness. Once properly diagnosed with myopia and fitted with corrective lenses, the difference in the child’s performance in school and their general happiness is very noticeable.

An abnormal oblong shape to the eye does not allow light to refract as it should. Myopia occurs when blurred images are transmitted to the brain when the cornea and lens overly bend the light coming into the eye, causing a refractive error in the retina. Genetics play a role, but environmental influences such as close computer work, using lighted instruments such as lasers and general eye strain are contributing factors. Other outside influences or health issues can cause episodes of nearsightedness that are not diagnosed as myopia. Night myopia occurs when dim lighting changes the eyes ability to focus in dark conditions. Diabetes can cause nearsightedness as one of the first signs that cataracts are forming in the eye. People who perform up close work can sometimes experience a temporary nearsightedness that corrects itself once the eyes are rested.

 

The occurrence of myopia is highest in school age children and young adults, and is the world’s most common eye dysfunction. The condition is most often diagnosed, by an ophthalmologist or optometrist, after a teacher realizes a student is having difficulty reading the blackboard and is starting to struggle with schoolwork. Studies around the world indicate that in the last several generations, the cases of nearsightedness have increased especially among school-aged children. While familial inheritance of the disease has been proven to increase the likelihood of myopia, outside aspects such as close reading work have greatly contributed to the number of those affected in recent generations. The exact nature of how environmental issues and inheritance combine to produce myopia remains unknown.

There are a certain number of people affected with nearsightedness, who can benefit from one of three different surgeries to correct the refraction in the eye. The repair improves the focus of the light rays on the retina by reshaping the cornea. Well known LASIK surgery, radial keratotomy and photorefractive keratectomy are all done as outpatient surgery, on those whose condition warrants surgical intervention. For others, corrective lenses and eye glasses are the myopic treatment of choice. No preventatives exist for myopia, but the treatment options allow the person with nearsightedness to once again see clearly into the distance.

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